A TV ad for VIP e-cigarettes featured a woman in a black dress, who spoke to the camera and said, You know that feeling you get, when something's great? You can touch it, hold it, even see it. Well, now you can taste it. As she spoke she ran
her hand over her thigh. The voice-over stated, Choose the great taste of VIP e-cigarettes and e-liquids. Quality assured since 2009, with a variety of flavours and nicotine strengths from 0 to 24 mg. VIP.
viewers objected to the ad.
Most viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed it was overtly sexual and irresponsibly sexualised e-cigarette use.
Many also challenged whether the ad was suitable for
broadcast before 9 pm.
1. Not upheld
Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were not a prohibited category under the BCAP Code, and were therefore permitted to be advertised, providing they were
The ASA considered that the woman in the ad spoke in a sensual way, and was depicted touching her leg in a sensual manner. We acknowledged that some viewers would find the ad distasteful, but considered
that the sexual references were unlikely to be regarded as explicit or overtly sexual, and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or to be regarded as irresponsible.
We noted that
Clearcast had applied an ex-kids restriction which meant the ad could not be shown in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We considered that the scheduling restriction
applied would likely restrict younger children from seeing the ad. However, we were concerned that the degree of sexuality in the ad, while not overt, was also unsuitable for older children. We therefore concluded that, to minimise the risk of children
seeing it, the ad should have been given a 9 pm timing restriction.
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form before 9 pm.
Two ads, on the American Apparel's website and Instagram page, for a skirt which was featured in their School Days or Back To School range:
a. The website ad on www.americanapparel.co.uk featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt, a top and white underwear, bending over to touch the ground, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her crotch and buttocks were
b. The ad posted on the advertisers' UK Instagram page featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt and a top leaning into a car, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her buttocks were visible.
Two complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive and irresponsible, because they were overtly sexual and inappropriate for a skirt advertised as school-wear.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA considered that the way in which the model was posed in both images, with her head and upper body obstructed in ad (a) by her legs, and cut off from the frame in ad (b), meant that the focus was on her buttocks and groin
rather than on the skirt being modelled. We considered the images were gratuitous and objectified women, and were therefore sexist and likely to cause serious and widespread offence. Furthermore, we considered the images imitated voyeuristic up-skirt
shots which had been taken without the subject's consent or knowledge which, in the context of an ad for a skirt marketed to young women, we considered had the potential to normalise a predatory sexual behaviour. We considered the ads had therefore
not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers or to society.
Notwithstanding the above, we noted that, on American Apparel's website, the skirt was featured in its SCHOOL DAYS or BTS (which we
understood to stand for Back To School') 'Lookbook , and that the image on Instagram had been similarly referenced. We also noted it was not possible, from the images, to determine the age of the model because her face was not visible. We
considered that, from the context in which the ads appeared, it was likely that those who viewed them would understand that the model was, or was intended to appear to be, a schoolgirl. We considered the ads had the effect of inappropriately sexualising
school-age girls and were therefore offensive and irresponsible for that reason too.
We noted American Apparel's view that, because consumers would be aware of their branding, they would expect to see such images when viewing
their Instagram page or visiting their website. We considered, however, that the ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence irrespective of whether consumers had opted in to American Apparel's marketing
communications, and particularly in the context of a clothing brand which had appeal to young people, including teenagers under 16 years of age. We noted American Apparel had removed the images before we had contacted them, but were nonetheless concerned
that the images had appeared in their advertising at all. We concluded the ads were in breach of the Code.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told American Apparel (UK) Ltd to ensure their future advertising
was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society, and that it contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is no stranger to childish behaviour. But with its latest decision to ban images from raunchy retailer American Apparel's Back to School campaign for inappropriately sexualising schoolgirls , the
over-zealous watchdog really has thrown its toys out of the pram.
An ad for the video game Wolfenstein: The New Order was displayed on a gaming website, www.eurogamer.net. An ad bordered the home page and was headed Wolfenstein: The New Order ...] HOVER TO EXPAND THE VIDEO and pictured two figures
holding guns. A PEGI 18 symbol was also shown. Hovering over the top section of the border for three seconds, without clicking, opened a video trailer ad over the home page and played automatically. On-screen text at the start of the video stated MATURE 17+ ... Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
. The video included a scene depicted in black and white where two Nazi officers wearing gas masks walked amongst the bodies of dead peace protestors. One Nazi soldier was shown executing a man on the ground with a bullet to the head, whilst a robot
animal walked in the background. The trailer included other scenes of game footage which depicted people being killed or hurt, including by being shot. Dialogue included What the fuck did I just do? , What you been up to ...? Shooting,
stabbin', strangling Nazis and Well, I'm on the motherfucking moon .
The complainant, who believed the ad to be excessively gory and shocking and was concerned that it could be seen by children, objected that the ad:
1. in the particular scene showing the execution of a man, was offensive and distressing; and
2. was unsuitable to be shown on a home page with no restrictions on who could view it.
Eurogamer said their site was a video games site written for and read by a mature gaming audience. They said their readership was generally in their mid to late 20s and 30s. They said their last readership survey in May 2014 showed that 96.89% of their readership was aged 18 or over. They provided a breakdown of the readership survey respondents by age category.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
1. Not upheld
The video trailer included graphic scenes of violence, including a man being shot in the head, and the dialogue featured
swearing. The ASA therefore considered that the content of the ad had the potential to cause offence or distress. However, the ad had appeared on a website where the readership was predominantly a gaming audience aged 18 or over, who we considered were
likely to be familiar with the nature and contents of different types of video games. The ad shown on the home page included the name of the game, a PEGI 18 symbol and pictured two figures holding guns. We therefore considered that it indicated the video
trailer was likely to include violent content. The trailer played when the home page ad was hovered over for three seconds, during which a countdown was displayed. The start of the trailer also included a prominent warning of the nature of the video's
contents. We considered that website users were provided with adequate information and warning about the nature of the contents of the ad, and users who did not wish to view such material were able to avoid doing so. We therefore considered that the ad
was unlikely to cause offence or distress to those people who viewed it.
2. Not upheld
We considered that the nature of the video trailer, which included graphic violence and swearing, meant that it would
not be suitable to appear in an untargeted medium. However, the website on which the ad appeared had a predominantly adult audience, and the latest readership survey showed that only 3 % of the website's users were aged under 18. Readers were also
provided with adequate information and warning about the nature of the contents of the ad, and the ad stated clearly that the game had a PEGI 18 rating. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen by children and that it had been
A website for a betting service, www.betdaq.com, featured an image of the statue of Christ the Redeemer with the surrounding city of Rio de Janeiro visible behind. The statue had been digitally altered so that the figure's robe was purple, and the word
BETDAQ had been superimposed onto it. The image was headed WORLD CUP 2014 - BET WITH BETDAQ .
A complainant objected that the use of an image of Jesus Christ to promote gambling would be offensive to Christians.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the statute of Christ the Redeemer was a well-known landmark for the city of Rio de Janeiro and was therefore likely to be understood as a reference
to the city and the location of the 2014 World Cup, particularly as the city was visible in the background of the image and the tournament was clearly referenced in the ad. However, we also understood that any image of Jesus was likely to hold religious
connotations for believers, and that despite its secular use as a landmark this was still the case for the statue in question. We noted that, although the figure was not seen taking an active part in gambling, it was emblazoned with the logo and colour
scheme of a betting company and was featured in a prominent role in an ad for a gambling service. We considered that this created an association between the figure of Christ and gambling and commercial activities. We therefore concluded that the ad was
likely to cause serious offence to some visitors to the website.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ladbrokes to take care in future when using religious imagery.
An ad for a used car dealership appeared as a sponsored post on the complainant's Facebook news feed. The ad featured an image of a woman, visible from the shoulders down, facing away from the camera and resting one knee on a countertop. She was wearing
a shirt but appeared to be naked from the waist down. Text beside the woman was accompanied by the Aston Martin logo and stated You know you're not the first, but do you really care? - ASTON MARTIN PRE OWED[sic] . The image and its strapline had
been posted by Belvue Cars with the accompanying text Need we say more? .
The complainant, who considered that the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread
Belvue Cars Ltd said that they had not created the original image and strapline, and because it already existed and carried the Aston Martin logo, they had understood it to be acceptable for re-posting on their Facebook
site. Having considered the complaint, they stated that they agreed the ad could cause serious offence and that they had therefore withdrawn it from use.
Facebook advised that the ad violated their own guidelines on advertising
and confirmed that it had been removed from the website.
Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that Belvue Cars Ltd had not created the original image and strapline. We also understood that,
although it bore the Aston Martin logo, it was not official advertising for Aston Martin and was not in any way associated with that company. We considered that at the point the image and its strapline were re-posted by Belvue Cars on their Facebook
page, together with the company name Belvue Cars and the comment Need we say more? the content took a promotional form and that it was Belvue Cars' responsibility to ensure that it complied with the requirements of the CAP Code.
We considered that the image of the partially naked woman, whose head was not visible in the picture, together with the text You know you're not the first, but do you really care? , as well as the comment Need we say more?
, presented a sexist and objectified view of women that was likely to cause serious and widespread offence to those who saw it as a sponsored post in the Facebook news feed for Belvue Cars. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
An ad, for Paddy Power, seen in the Metro. It featured the text WHO'S THE BEST MASS DEBATER? CLEGG 6/4 FARAGE 1/2 ... and photographs of Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage with suggestive facial expressions.
Two complainants, who
understood that the ad alluded to masturbation, challenged whether it was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the ad appeared in a newspaper aimed at an adult audience, in the
context of two TV debates between the two politicians featured. Adult readers of the Metro were likely to recognise the ad as a reference to betting on the evening's forthcoming debate and, although there were no explicit references to masturbation, they
would understand the double meaning of the text and facial expressions.
We understood that the advertisers had intended to convey their service in a light-hearted way and considered that readers would regard the ad as an attempt
at humour on the part of Paddy Power. We also considered that readers might not share the advertisers' humour and find the ad to be disrespectful and in poor taste.
Marketing communications must not contain anything likely to
cause serious or widespread offence. We acknowledged the complainants' views, and considered that many readers may have found the choice of text and images to be distasteful. Given the context in which it appeared, however, we concluded that the ad was
unlikely to cause offence to a serious or widespread degree.
An entertainment mailing from the Inverness City Advertiser, titled whatsonhighlands , stated ... the weekly fix ... A new way to keep up to date with what's on - and where to go, brought to you by: ica/whatsonhighlands.com ... Inject some fun
into your life, sign up today ... . The ad also featured an image of a full hypodermic syringe and needle.
Five complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ad was headlined the weekly fix with text that stated Inject some fun ... which in isolation was likely to convey the message that updates were essential
reading for consumers interested in regional entertainment listings. However, the ad also included a visual of a needle and syringe which alongside the text weekly fix and inject , in the context of a consumer lifestyle mailing, the ASA
considered were likely to imply recreational and illegal drug use. We therefore considered the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ICA
t/a whatsonhighlands.com not to use text and imagery which implied illegal drug use.
A billboard poster for Nicofresh e-cigarettes, which appeared in various locations in Belfast, featured an elderly white woman sitting on a sofa alongside a young black man. The man had his arms around the woman and his eyes were closed, whilst the woman
held an electronic cigarette and was looking directly at the camera. Text alongside the image stated NO TOBACCO. NO TABOO .
Six complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive on the grounds of race, because it implied that an interracial relationship was socially unacceptable.
Four of the complainants challenged
whether the ad was offensive on the grounds of age, because it implied that a relationship between an elderly woman and a younger man was socially unacceptable.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ad to mean that, contrary to the relationship depicted, to smoke e-cigarettes was not a taboo issue. We noted
the pronounced age gap between the man and woman, the fact they were a couple, and that the image was accompanied with the text NO TOBACCO. NO TABOO . We considered that consumers would believe that the ad was presenting a relationship between an
older and younger individual, particularly an older woman and a younger man, and a couple of different races, as something that was unusual or socially unacceptable. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread
offence on the grounds of race and age.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Nicofresh Ltd to ensure their marketing communications
did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence in future, and to take particular care to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race or age.
A TV ad, for Tesco F&F clothing range, cut between a woman and a man wearing different clothing in each shot and included the woman in a bikini and cut-off shorts. The models were shown either posing or moving around, including the woman rolling
on the floor. The woman lip-synched to the song played throughout the ad, which included the lyrics I want your touch. I want your body. I feel the heat. It's you, it's you I want tonight. The heat is on. I want you here tonight. I feel the heat .
Thirteen viewers challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for broadcast before 9 pm, particularly at times when children could be watching.
Assessment: Not upheld
considered that, in the context of an ad for a summer clothing range, it was not inappropriate to feature the models in shorts, loose fitting tops and swimwear. The woman's outfits were not particularly revealing, other than the two piece swimsuit, which
exposed more of her body than the other garments, but nonetheless there was no sexual connotation attached to the item of clothing. The majority of the models' poses were traditional catwalk positions and others, such as the woman rolling on the floor,
were only mildly sexual in nature and unlikely to be understood by children.
Although the lyrics of the song were open to mild sexual interpretation, we considered that very young children would be unlikely to understand that
allusion and the song was not unsuitable for older children, many already likely to be familiar with the song and its dance based lyrics.
We considered that the ad was neither sexually explicit nor suggestive, and was unlikely to
cause harm to children or to a more general audience. We therefore concluded that the ad was suitable for broadcast before 9 pm.
A TV ad, promoting Jagermeister, showed a group of male friends leaving for a road trip in the early hours of the morning. The men were shown travelling through snowy, mountainous terrain in a truck, and one scene showed them getting out of the truck
to push it through a snow drift. The men were later shown carrying surf boards and changing into wetsuits before jumping into the ocean. They were then shown surfing on large waves and, as they returned to shore, patting each other on the back and
congratulating one another. Later, in the evening, they were shown in a log cabin at a bar, where they each received a shot of Jagermeister in a frozen glass and were shown raising their glasses to one another whilst the voice-over stated, Jagermeister.
It runs deep.
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because it:
linked alcohol with tough, daring behaviour;
encouraged irresponsible and immoderate drinking; and
implied that alcohol was key to the social success of the occasion. BCAP
Code 188.8.131.529.5 Response
The ASA noted that the ad was set in Iceland and depicted driving in difficult icy conditions and surfing in very cold and rough waters, both of which
we considered to be potentially dangerous activities which required skill and daring. The group were not shown consuming alcohol, and there was no suggestion that they had done so, prior to the evening when they were shown in a bar. Nonetheless, because
the ad featured both alcohol, and physically demanding and challenging activities, we considered that it made a clear association between an alcoholic product and tough and daring behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
2. Not upheld
At the end of the ad the group of friends were shown in a bar each being served one iced shot of Jagermeister. Once served, the group members were shown holding and raising their glasses to
one another, and there was no sense of urgency to consume the drinks. Whilst we acknowledged that shots were usually consumed quickly, or in one go, we considered that the presence of a single round of iced shots in the ad did not amount to, or
encourage, immoderate drinking, particularly as there was no suggestion that they were consumed in a reckless or irresponsible manner. Therefore, we concluded that the ad did not encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking.
3. Not upheld
A large portion of the ad showed the group journeying to the sea and surfing at their destination. Throughout those scenes the men were shown laughing, working together and enjoying one another's company. We therefore
considered that it was clear that the men were good friends, who had known each other for some time. Later in the ad, the group were shown in a bar sharing a round of Jagermeister shots. We considered, however, that the presence of alcohol did not result
in a shift in mood or a change in the group's relationships, and instead was incidental to their enjoyment of the evening and each other's company. For those reasons, we did not consider that the ad implied that the social success of the evening depended
on the presence or consumption of alcohol.
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.
A picture posted by Captain Morgan on their Facebook page showed the pirate Captain Morgan raising a glass and cheering whilst surrounded by his crew. Text at top of the image stated WEDNESDAY. I'M DECLARING WAR ON MID-WEEK BOREDOM .
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because it implied that alcohol could overcome boredom and was capable of changing mood.
ASA Assessment: Complaint
The ASA noted that the ad showed the Captain, who was cheering and leading a toast, surrounded by his crewmates, who were also raising their glasses. We understood that the ad had been published on a Wednesday, and that the
text referred to putting an end to mid-week boredom . We considered that most consumers, viewing the image and text together, particularly in the context of the Captain Morgan Facebook page, would interpret the ad to mean that the Captain was
alleviating his boredom by drinking Captain Morgan with friends. Whilst we acknowledged that the page included other posts related to meeting with friends or the mid-week milestone, as those posts did not appear regularly and were not directly
linked to the ad, we considered that consumers were unlikely to view them as related or as part of a series. Therefore, we considered that their presence was unlikely to change a consumer's impression of the ad in question. Similarly, we considered that
the presence of drink responsibly posts did not undermine the fact that the ad, although not expressly encouraging excessive drinking, implied that the Captain had sought alcohol to improve his mood. Because of that, we concluded that the ad
implied that alcohol could overcome boredom and was capable of changing mood, and was therefore in breach of the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Diageo Great Britain Ltd to ensure they did not state
or imply that alcohol could overcome boredom or was capable of changing mood in future.
A video ad, on Jaguar Land Rover Ltd's YouTube channel, titled The Art of Villainy was presented as part of Jaguar's GoodToBeBad ad campaign. The ad featured actor Tom Hiddleston playing a suave villain and his character talked about
the factors that made a good villain. The ad featured the character driving a Jaguar F-Type in an underground car park and on a public road.
The complainant, who believed the ad featured and encouraged unsafe driving, challenged
whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA considered the ad focused on the appearance of the car and how its style mirrored that of the character being played by
Tom Hiddleston who was clearly presented as a sophisticated and cultured villain who was matched by the sophistication of the car in both its appearance and performance. We therefore considered that although the ad featured direct and implied references
to speed, it was not the primary focus.
However, acceleration and speed did feature in the ad when the car was shown driving up the ramp to exit the underground car park and when it was shown being driven on a public road at
night. The noise of acceleration and the speed with which the car went up the ramp in the car park appeared to suggest significant speed within an enclosed environment. We also considered significant speed was suggested when the car accelerated on the
public road after the character said Now brace yourselves and again when the car exited a tunnel and sped away from other cars on the road. Whilst on-screen text stated Professional driver. Closed course. Always obey speed limits , we
considered the overall impression consumers would take from those scenes was of a car being driven on a public road (with other cars present) at speed and that the on-screen text would not negate that impression. Whilst we acknowledged the sequences were
brief, we considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 4.4 (Harm and offence),
19.2 and 19.3 (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Jaguar Land Rover Ltd not to portray speed or driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.
An ad seen on the TV listings website www.radiotimes.com for the Russian Bride website, www.russianbrides.com. The ad featured a woman, visible from the chest up, wearing a low-cut bra, looking up at the camera with pouted lips. Text alongside the image
stated Sexy Russian Sensations @ FLIRT NOW! Issue
The complainant challenged whether:
the ad was offensive, because it was overtly sexual; and
the ad was irresponsible, because it was inappropriately placed on a website that might be seen by children.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA was concerned by Anastasia International's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay).
We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We welcomed the publisher's assurance that additional checks had been put in place to ensure this and similar ads would
not appear again on their website.
We noted that the ad featured a woman in a provocative pose that focused on her cleavage, and her pursed lips appeared seductive in nature. We considered the text alongside the image heightened the overtly sexual
nature of the ad. We also noted that the ad appeared on a general TV listings website. We therefore considered that the placement of the ad was inappropriate.
Because the ad was overtly sexual and appeared on untargeted medium, which could also be
seen by children, we concluded that it was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.